8 April 2016:
Those of you that have been waiting on tenterhooks since the last Ranger blog to find out if the rare Agaricus Devoniensis found by me at Landguard has been confirmed - wait no longer - as Geoffrey Kibby one of the countries leading experts on the Agaricus family based at Kew confirmed that the dried samples that I sent him are Agaricus Devoniensis. This to my knowledge is the second only record of this rare species to be recorded in Suffolk.
At Landguard it is found where the grassland begins to naturally blend in to the shingle. This is exactly the habitat which has been largely lost along our coast either by sea defence or just heavy footfall which prevents the natural transition from shingle to grassland. To highlight this point this mushroom generally occurs in areas that have been protected through the growing season for many years by post and rope enclosures at Landguard.
Alan Tinline the Environment and Energy Manager from the Port of Felixstowe announced that the Ports Environment Committee would provide a third of the funding towards the fiendishly expensive, new interpretation/notice board with small roof and bench and invited the Landguard Partnership to apply to the Port Community fund for a further third. This would leave the Landguard Partnership to provide the remaining third. A new interpretation and combined notice board would provide a much needed focal point for visitors. Thanks again Alan, very much appreciated. This is on hold while other funding for the Nature Reserve is investigated.
I met Alan again at the 'What’s Nature Ever Done For Us' event held by the Green Print Forum and Felixstowe Forward. Alan picked up on one of the Reserves plans to provide a picnic bench or two at the Manor Terrace car park. He mentioned that the Port has several large used wooden cable reels which are often broken up and recycled. Alan mentioned that now great steps have been made in recycling, reusing in various instances would be desirable. Some of the reels are already taken by local craftsmen to turn in to bespoke furniture. I have now taken delivery of two large reels and looking forward to converting them into a fine picnic bench.
The 'Feed the Birds and Give a Bird a Home' event helped celebrate National Nest Box Week for the second year running. Amazingly we were blessed with a one day window of the same sunny and windless weather as the year before, so didn’t have to resort to the bad weather contingency of holding the event in the garage. Twenty one boxes were made and taken home at the cost of £5 which covers the cost of materials. The boxes were made of the correct timber and to the correct dimensions, something not always adhered to by the manufacturers of boxes that I have seen in various garden centres. A big thanks to volunteers involved in helping make the boxes, fat and bottle bird feeders.
A four meter high tide coupled with strong north easterly gales altered the shape of the beach in one fowl swoop, leaving the seaweed tide line much further up the beach than I have seen it before. In the photo (below left) you can see that the tide line was past some clumps of Marram Grass that were normally safe behind a ridge of shingle. Areas of dormant Sea Pea were uprooted but this will at least release seeds to spread further afield.
On the 22 March the beach enclosures, consisting of posts linked by a single rope, were put up. These enclosures go a long way in ensuring that shingle nesting birds are not disturbed by unwitting visitors, I say unwitting because Ringed Plover camouflage works so well that most visitors wouldn’t notice them as they scuttled away. The camouflage of the eggs and chicks works equally well; great protection against predators but disastrous under the foot of the unwitting visitor! On the day John Grant from the East Anglian Daily Times came with a photographer so that he could add a piece to his excellent Environment section. So good that the County has someone that understands and writes so eloquently on the subject.
Members of the Bird Observatory put up the large southern most enclosure and the small one at the Point that especially protects Sea Pea from trampling. The 'Footprints' conservation volunteers that work with East Suffolk Norse’s Countryside Service put up the large northern enclosure. With the help of Norse’s 4x4 and trailer to ferry posts and equipment the task was completed more quickly than usual, so much so that the Bird Observatory members had completed their task before 11am and retreated for a cuppa. Unfortunately only the 'Footprints' volunteers were left to steal the limelight for the mugshot. Thank you very much to all that gave up their time to ensure the nesting birds and plants at Landguard are protected for another season.
I occasionally get drawn in to conversations with visitors as to the necessity of providing protection for the wildlife on the Reserve. More than once a visitor has exclaimed 'What are you doing for people here'. I reply, providing a Nature Reserve for you to enjoy but we have to make requests on visitor activities to retain the wildlife. The stock reply is usually "What wildlife I can’t see any" the unwitting visitor strikes again! I have always found that listening to someone with an in-depth knowledge of a subject is the best way to begin to appreciate and engage with it, be it works of art, literature and of course in this instance Natural History. Be careful though as dipping your toe in to this one can lead to a lifetime of absorbing fascination.
I will be leading a 'What’s about with the Ranger' walk on the 2 May. The walk is free, but any donations go towards buying bird feed for the Bungalow feeders. Please meet outside the Landguard Visitor Centre and View Point Cafe at 10am (finishing 11.30am). There are two opportunities to join me on informative walks around the Reserve as part of the Suffolk Walking Festival. Walks are entitled 'A Point Well Made'. Please book on line at www.suffolkwalkingfestival.co.uk
I’ll leave you with lovely photos purloined from the Bird Observatory website - a White Wagtail and a Fircrest and a Continental Coal Tit by me!
P.S. the Early Forget-me-not is in bloom now!
Bring your eye-glass.